Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu are the primary kaitiaki (guardians) of the Te Waihora catchment. Their takiwā also extends to the wider Selwyn District, and south to the Hakatere/Ashburton River. Te Taumutu Rūnanga is the administrative council of the hapü. In this role, the Rūnanga has a responsibility to protect the natural resources, mahinga kai, and other values of the takiwā for the benefit of those people of Ngāi Tahu descent who have customary interests in the area.

The Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991 and the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act (NTCSA) 1998 establish statutory recognition of the relationship of tāngata whenua to their whenua tupuna (ancestral lands) and wai tupuna (ancestral waters), and their role in national, regional and local natural resources planning and policy processes.

To address a range of issues relating to the capacity of Te Taumutu Rūnanga to effectively manage the resources in their takiwā, Te Taumutu Rūnanga, with the support of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, developed a Natural Resource Management Plan. The plan is designed to provide a framework for Te Taumutu Rūnanga to effectively apply tāngata whenua values and polices to natural resource management in the takiwā.

While the plan is first and foremost a planning document for Te Taumutu Rūnanga, it is also designed to assist local, regional and central government authorities in understanding Rūnanga policy and consultation requirements.